Reject Senate Bill 647, Draconian Limits on Academic Freedom
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This bill, created as a response to the American Studies Association's decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions, imposes unreasonable and draconian limits on academics' ability to engage with ASA or any other academic organization which exercises its freedom of speech and association to stand up against what they believe is oppression by foreign countries which violate human rights.
The bill would not only strip funding from such groups and penalize state-funded academic institutions which are members of such groups, but would also forbid individual academics from using university funds to travel to any meetings organized by groups covered by the bill.
As professor Corey Robin said about a generally identical bill in New York, "This bill is not about defunding the ASA so much as it is about stopping individual faculty from participating in the ASA." It would apply to any academic organization that took a similar action to that of the ASA, whether regarding Israel or any other country which has normal academic relations with the United States. It is a clear infringement on free speech and, ironically, it, much more than the ASA decision, is a major infringement on academic freedom. This is not only true because of the provisions of the bill, but also because it represents state interference in speech, assembly and academic freedom and association. It must be defeated for all of these reasons.
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